The Feedback Loop has gotten attention for its contributions to increasing communication between the scientific community and NIGMS staff. Now, the NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Sally Rockey, has launched a new blog, called Rock Talk. It will be a forum for discussing NIH funding policies and processes and how they affect the extramural community. These posts will complement the NIH Extramural Nexus, which is more news-oriented. Both the blog and the Nexus offer subscription options.
The blog is off to a lively start with a discussion of NIH’s family-friendly policies. I hope you will check it out.
In September 2009, we announced that we were not reissuing the funding opportunity announcement for our Large-Scale Collaborative Project Awards (Glue Grant) program, which has supported research teams tackling significant and complex problems that are beyond the means of any one research group. We are currently assessing the need for this type of support and how best to manage programs of such scope and magnitude.
As part of this effort, we are conducting an assessment of the glue grant program’s major outcomes and their impact. We’re seeking your views through voluntary input forms posted on the NIGMS Web site. The forms will ask about various aspects of the glue grant program as a whole and about specific glue grant projects, including:
You can read more about the assessment and view the forms at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Initiatives/Collaborative/
GlueGrants/OutcomeAssessment. The site will be open for input until December 15, 2010.
UPDATE: We have extended the comment period from December 15 to January 15.
Many kids (and adults) learned more about science and technology at the 2-week-long USA Science & Engineering Festival this month in Washington, D.C. The event featured hundreds of activities, including performances, workshops, demonstrations, tours of mobile labs and interactive games. A number of these were hosted by NIH, which was also one of the event sponsors, and most of its components. The festival wrapped up last weekend with a grand finale expo on the National Mall.
On Sunday, I helped host the NIGMS booth, where we presented a computer activity called “Supermodels of Science.” It showed how model organisms—from slimy worms to furry mice—help scientists learn more about human health. The kids were most excited about responding to the quiz questions at the end of each segment. They also were very interested in how scientists use GFP to make organisms glow different colors.
Other NIH activities included a musical performance by NIH Director Francis Collins; the National Human Genome Research Institute’s “Strawberry DNA Extraction,” a hands-on lab experiment where visitors used a soapy mixture to remove DNA from mashed strawberries; and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders’ “It’s a Noisy Planet,” where staff increased the volume on an iPod to demonstrate dangerous noise levels.
The festival’s turnout was excellent—about 500,000 people attended the weekend event. The kids were excited about science and eager to learn, and the volunteer staff members were thrilled to teach them about the research we support.
We’ll post the “Supermodels of Science” activity on the NIGMS Web site soon, and you’re welcome to use it in your own educational outreach efforts.
One of my activities is representing NIGMS on the NIH Financial Conflict of Interest Panel. This group has put substantial time and effort into updating the financial conflict of interest regulations that apply to NIH grant applicants. The proposed changes to the regulations are reflected in a recently released notice of proposed rulemaking that is now open for comment. You may submit comments electronically or by mail as long as they are received by July 20, 2010.
Although responsibility for reporting and managing financial conflicts of interest would remain with the grantee institution, several of the proposed changes would affect individual investigators. For example, investigator disclosure requirements would be expanded to include all significant financial interests related to the investigator’s institutional responsibilities. In addition, the dollar threshold for disclosure of significant financial interests would be $5,000 (it’s currently $10,000), and this amount would apply to both payments and equity interests. Equity interest of any amount in non-publicly traded entities is considered a significant financial interest and would have to be disclosed.
Investigators would also be required to complete financial conflict of interest training before engaging in NIH-funded research and every 2 years thereafter.
I encourage you to look over the proposed rulemaking document as well as to learn how your institution will be implementing the new financial conflict of interest policy.
UPDATE: The comment period on the proposed changes to financial conflict of interest regulations has been extended to August 19. For more details, see the NIH Guide.